(Brent A. Jones) – When liberal do-gooder social engineers intrude in the free market, no good comes of it. That’s a tough lesson being learned by multitudes of business owners and workers in Philadelphia, PA as the repercussions from a new soda tax in the cradle of American freedom takes hold.

As a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial on Monday reveals, busy-body politicians imposed a new sales tax on sugar-sweetened beverages on January 1st – around 18-cents per can/bottle – with predictable results only reality-blind nanny-staters apparently never saw coming.

It killed jobs. Lots of them.

“Turns out,” the RJ notes, “consumers aren’t eager to pay a premium tax for beverages when they can go across the city line and get the same product for far less. Now the city’s grocery stores and wholesalers say they’re shedding employees in order to offset the drop in sales.”

One store owner in Philly reports “that his beverage sales were down 50 percent between Jan. 1 and Feb. 17 compared with the same period last year.”

As a result, some 280 jobs have already been eliminated – with more pink slips on the way in the coming months.

But surely this great reduction in the purchase of sweetened-drinks is good for city residents’ overall health and well worth the price so many workers are paying, right?

Wrong. Because the tax hike didn’t cause Philadelphians to stop drinking their favorite sweetened beverages. It just caused them to shop for those sweetened beverages outside the city limits.

“According to Bob Brockway, chief operating officer of Canada Dry Delaware Valley,” the RJ editorial continues, “sales are up 20 percent in the suburbs of Philadelphia.”

Who didn’t see THAT coming – other than the nanny-staters who thought this “misguided social experiment” was such a brilliant idea?

In situations such as this, the market is as predictable as gravity – a lesson state legislators in Carson City, who are mulling legislation to jack up Nevada’s minimum wage to $12 or $15 per hour, should heed.

Because such government meddling will result in many businesses shutting down and others moving to more business-friendly states. Which will kill jobs here. Lots of them.

In fact, after San Diego increased its minimum wage last June from $10 per hour to $11.50, Competitive Edge, an opinion research firm that’s been operating in San Diego since 1987, announced it was moving its call center to Texas, taking with it 75 jobs.

“We’re moving the call center to El Paso because California has become inhospitable to (telephone) interviewing jobs,” Chief Executive John Nienstedt told the San Diego Tribune, citing “California’s rising wage floor as the deciding factor in moving the company’s call center.”

This isn’t theory. This is reality. Busy-body do-gooders who use the power of government to meddle in the free market kill jobs. Lots of them. They need to knock it off.

Are you listening, Nevada legislators?

Brent A. Jones is the owner of Nevada-based Real Water and president of Nevada’s REAL Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at brent@drinkrealwater.com